|San Jacinto News Times - Local News
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Artist uses scratchboard techniques capturing wildlife with acrylics
Tommy Humphrey has been an artist as long as he can remember. "I was probably born that way," he said. Monday he told members and guests of the Coldspring Area Art League (CAAL) about his specialty – full color scratchboard – a technique where drawings are created using sharp pen knives and tools for etching into a thin layer of white China clay that is coated with black India ink. "Scratchboard is pen and ink in reverse," he explained to an attentive audience. "It's not a fast medium," Humphrey said. "Putting color on is what takes the time, not the scratching." His work incorporates a visual blend of many small dots of color created with a pen point. This gives his wildlife creations a realistic look that clearly separates his scratchboard work from that of others. "It's a very unforgiving medium. You cannot rearrange or resize," he said. Giving his audience a small piece of scratchboard, Humphrey asked each one to scratch a scene using a sharp pen knife he provided. "Start with penciling your layout on paper before starting with your scratchboard. Detail work evolves and knowing your form and perspective helps your details to evolve as you work," he said. While his specialty is full color scratchboard, he said he prefers claybord, a clay surface on Masonite which allows him to combine acrylic painting techniques with his scratchboard techniques. "Don't apply acrylics too thick," he warned, adding, "Acrylics can be used but they have to be thin. You can use as many layers as you want as long as you don't get the acrylics too thick." To transfer a layout onto a scratchboard, he advises to use graphite on light areas and chalk on dark areas. "To put color on use brushes and pen points and finish by spraying with a glazing liquid when completed," he said. Humphrey focuses exclusively on wildlife imagery and has participated in some of the nation's most prestigious and well-attended wildlife art shows. The Coldspring Area Art League's purpose is to promote a diversity of works from area artists and crafters in an effort to increase interest in an array of artistic creations and to promote Coldspring as an established art district. Future plans include the league's first judged art show on Saturday, March 16 at the Coldspring United Methodist Church. The show will be open to the public beginning at noon. A summer art camp for children and "Art in the Coldspring City Park," benefiting the Coldspring Area Library is planned. Other plans include offering art lessons and workshops in the new Coldspring art gallery located at 201 Hwy. 150 east in Coldspring. The gallery is an extension of Chelten's Photo Gallery, owned by photographer John C. Davis. CAAL is a member of the Lone Star Art Guild, the binding organization for art leagues that are within 200 miles of Houston. CAAL meets the first Monday of the month from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. at Chelten Photo and Art Gallery in the Coldspring Shopping Center. For more information, go to www.coldspringareaartleague.org.